In a lot of my writing, I am captured by living close to the ocean, traditions, and the essences of living on the edge of the world. I don’t live on the edge of the world, but I do live near the sea, so the wind, the waves, the fog, the atmosphere of my life falls into the writing easily.
In The Staff, they live in a small village by the sea. While it isn’t a seafaring book, it is based on living near the ocean and even some of the traditions they keep concerning the sea and the fishing fleet. Beyond that, there is an ominous nautical reference in the arrival of a large ship. This ship is not only imposing, but it is called Lucifer’s Wing and the bowsprit is a devil with its arm raised out reaching for the soul of the village. Thinking back, I saw that image somewhere. I think it came from my dictionary. I have an old 1950’s Webster New Collegiate Dictionary and I adore the book. It was always the book on my desk and even in the digital age of spell check, I still use it. Yet, when I looked through the dictionary, I can’t find that black and white spot image.
When a tall ship came in this month and I saw the ships prow with a great face on it, I thought about my novel, and where that image of the devil on the front of a ship might be? I still don’t know where it is – if not on the pages of the novel. I was also inspired by Da Vinci’s portraits of old men. The senior council members were inspired from drawings and visions of things like the images below. This is how I imagine Langston and the boys. They always seemed tired and sketched. They felt like old bas-relief, scraped from a stone or some tree bark.
|Tall Ship in New London|
It makes sense, I suppose, that all things in this book seem elusive and shifting. Perhaps that is the nature of lives built on lies, deceit, and desperate want for freedom. The last point of all this – is that seafaring culture is clearly evident in museums in New London, New Bedford, Nantucket, and all along the Atlantic seaboard. It is a culture of lighthouses, whaling, fishing, and living on the edge. A place so eloquently captured by the likes of Steinbeck and Rachel Carson. But there is little mythology (other than the overarching elements) that define the fables and the curiosity around the sea. The mythology is often generic, Poseidon orientated, or it is superstitious and linked to random things. My question, I suppose is where do we house the mythology of the sea? And how much of it is still emerging.
Let’s Talk About The Staff is a series of discussion articles based on the novel The Staff by Ron Samul. For more information, check out the novel and read other linked articles.